Heinz-Harald Frentzen took pole position today in Nurburgring, the second pole of his career (first pole 1997, Monza) and the second pole for the Benson and Hedges Jordan team (first pole 1994, Spa, Barrichello). Frentzen made the perfect...
Heinz-Harald Frentzen took pole position today in Nurburgring, the second pole of his career (first pole 1997, Monza) and the second pole for the Benson and Hedges Jordan team (first pole 1994, Spa, Barrichello). Frentzen made the perfect strategy decision and, after a race-style tyre change in the pit lane, was able to run in the final seconds of the session to clinch pole. Damon Hill also enjoyed a good qualifying, but was squeezed down to seventh in the closing seconds.
The session was very tense, with drivers and teams trying to second guess the weather and track conditions. Rain fell at the start of the session, but, despite threatening to do so again, conditions became increasingly drier as the hour progressed. It came down to a test of nerves as to who could chance their luck to be the last driver on the track. Some drivers lost in the lottery, most notably Championship contender Eddie Irvine, who will start the race from a lowly 9th place. His team mate Mika Salo faired even worse, finishing 12th.. Ralf Schumacher looks strong and will race from 4th place. Coulthard out qualified Hakkinen, the Scot finishing second and ahead of the Finn in third place, leading to the inevitable questions about team orders. Not surprisingly, neither Coulthard nor Hakkinen was keen to make any comment.
Coming on the back of his victory in Monza, Frentzen's pole today makes his Championship challenge look that much stronger. "That was a fantastic qualifying session for Benson and Hedges Jordan," said Frentzen's boss, Eddie Jordan. "It was all very nerve wracking but in the end it worked out perfectly with the decision to come into change tyres in the pit lane allowing Heinz to take pole. Damon did an excellent job too, but went out that little bit too early. It is a great day for Jordan -- our second ever pole, and a great day for Mr Honda who arrived just in time to see the end of the session."
Commmenting after taking pole, Frentzen said, "It feels fantastic to be on pole, especially here in Germany. We'd had a difficult time in the practice sessions with various problems, and we were not sure how quick we would be compared with our competitors. The only chance I had was to go for it in qualifying and we really got our act together and made the best out of the situation. We had a lot of discussions about when to go out and it was difficult to know what to do as no-one can predict what is going to happen, but in the end we got it right. When I went out at the end I saw that the track was drying out very quickly and I talked to my engineer about what we could do. We only had four and a half minutes and we took the decision to come in so the mechanics could change the tyres in the pit lane -- that was a really key decision. Today we did an absolutely perfect job. The race will be tough but we will just have to do our best."
"I am pretty happy with today's session. It was very exciting and it could have been so easy to slip up and time things wrong and end up way down. So being just outside the top six is not bad. At one point I was at the sharp end which felt great. I feel very good and positive about the car and I am very pleased for Heinz-Harald and for the team for getting pole position because it shows we can be competitive on twisty tracks as well as high speed circuits. Eddie is sitting on a very strong team at the moment."